Character highlight #26: Taskmaster

Name: Tony Masters

Alias: Taskmas­ter, Bar­ney Toast­mas­ter, Cap­tain Amer­ica, Chief War­rant Offi­cer T. McWilliams/Ground Crew Chief McWilliams, Tasky

Affil­i­a­tion: Power Elite, Raven­croft Insti­tute, Black Ant, Hydra, Hydra’s Avengers, Hydra High Sect, S.H.I.E.L.D. Secret Avengers, A.I.M., The Org, The Cabal, Ini­tia­tive, Shadow Ini­tia­tive, Com­mit­tee, U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M., Cyber Nin­jas, Lords of the Liv­ing Light­ning, Sons of the Ser­pent, Black Chop­pers, Trench­coat Mafia, Mili­ti­a­men, The Inqui­si­tion, Agency X, Fright­ful Four, Thunderbolts

Spe­cial abil­i­ties: Pho­to­graphic mem­ory and, after tak­ing an exper­i­men­tal ver­sion of the Super-Soldier Serum, the abil­ity to mem­o­rize the motor skills and abil­i­ties of oth­ers. This abil­ity comes at the cost of his own memory.

Back­ground: Tony Mas­ters was born in the Bronx and real­ized at an early age that he could per­form feats he’d seen on TV just by watch­ing some­one per­form them. When he matured, he joined S.H.I.E.L.D. as an agent. Dur­ing a mis­sion, he injected him­self with the Nazi exper­i­men­tal ver­sion of the Super-Soldier Serum (much like the one that changed Steve Rogers) and gained enhanced abil­i­ties gained through his pho­to­graphic mem­ory and reflexes. This came at the cost of his mem­o­ries as he over­wrote his true mem­o­ries with those of the per­son he observed. His wife, Mer­cedes Merced, then crafted the Taskmas­ter per­sona to help him. Through his ill-gotten gains as Taskmas­ter, he became a trainer of vil­lains, or any­one who would pay. He has trained sev­eral super vil­lains, been part of the Secret Empire and Hydra and re-learned his true past, only to lose it again after being forced to learn a new set of moves.

Rela­tion­ships: Mer­cedes Merced (wife)

First Ver­sus appear­ance: Mar­vel vs. Cap­com 3

Appear­ances in other media:

Tele­vi­sion: Ulti­mate Spider-Man, Avengers Assem­ble (animated)

Film: Avengers Con­fi­den­tial: Black Widow & Pun­isher, Iron Man (ani­mated), Cap­tain Amer­ica: Heroes United, Black Widow (upcom­ing live-action)

Video games: Mar­vel vs. Cap­com 3: Fate of Two Worlds, Ulti­mate Mar­vel vs. Cap­com 3, Mar­vel Heroes, Avengers Ini­tia­tive, Mar­vel: Avengers Alliance, LEGO Mar­vel Super Heroes, Mar­vel: Avengers Alliance Tac­tics, Cap­tain Amer­ica: The Win­ter Sol­dier — The Offi­cial Game, Mar­vel Avengers Acad­emy, LEGO Marvel’s Avengers, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Avengers (2020), Mar­vel: Future Fight

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Top 5 on the Strip: Comic book games edition

1. Mar­vel vs. Cap­com series

If there were ever a polar­iz­ing yet fun fight­ing game, it’s prob­a­bly Mar­vel vs. Cap­com. The first few Ver­sus games are fun yet bro­ken, but you don’t know bro­ken until you get to Mar­vel vs. Cap­com 2. Spend­ing 18 hours at a tour­na­ment to watch the same 10 char­ac­ters fight in teams of three makes you dis­like and love a game at the same time.

2. Bat­man Arkham series

Batman’s run of action-adventure games has quite a few stand­outs. Rock­steady out­did them­selves in let­ting you become the Dark Knight and immerse your­self in the world of Gotham and the insane asy­lum that is Arkham. Any entries are clas­sics that shouldn’t be missed.

3. X-Men arcade game

Wel­come to die!” is a pleas­ant yet infa­mous greet­ing wait­ing for you at the end of the X-Men quar­ter muncher. Gold and Blue ’90s-era X-Men join and fight in a team of four to take on the Broth­er­hood of Mutants. It’s a fun romp that reminds you of how pow­er­ful the orig­i­nal ani­mated series was in terms of impact on gamers and comic book nerds alike.

4. TMNT 2: The Arcade Game

If there is ever a game on this list that per­son­i­fies GI and its life in the ’90s, it’s this sequel. Eas­ily one of the best quar­ter steal­ers of all time, TMNT2 took every­thing from the comics, the orig­i­nal ani­mated TV show and the movies and turned it into an ultra-fun excur­sion in the world of the lean mean green fight­ing machine.

5. Mar­vel Ulti­mate Alliance

An insanely fun brawler that’s chock full of Mar­vel awe­some­ness, the first Ulti­mate Alliance game is fun and full of depth. It’s also co-op and intro­duced you to the then-obscure Mar­vel char­ac­ters that are now house­hold names. I didn’t know the Win­ter Sol­dier then or Fing Fang Foom but I bet I do now. This is the Mar­vel encyclopedia.

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Otaku Corner: Pandemic blues or a geek’s battle cry against Covid 19

Or how we will learn to emerge awe­some from Downersville

As I write this, like many of our fel­low geeks around the coun­try and the world, GI staff are deal­ing with a new and unknown “nor­mal.” Ever since Jan­u­ary 20, the U.S. has been under siege by the Covid-19 virus caus­ing untold sick­ness and death. As an essen­tial worker for the state of South Car­olina, I have not had the com­fort of work­ing from home and have expe­ri­enced city-imposed lock­downs, bi-weekly quests to obtain basic sup­plies for home and work, and the daily reports of areas I had to avoid on the job. I also had to firmly but fairly inform vis­i­tors who come to visit their loved ones receiv­ing med­ical treat­ment at my place of employ­ment that vis­i­ta­tion was suspended.

Myself and Lyn­d­sey were hop­ing to cover many new games to play, movies to see at the­aters and the lat­est anime series to binge watch on Net­flix and Hulu. How­ever, Covid-19 has dealt a dev­as­tat­ing blow to release events of video games, can­celed comic book/anime con­ven­tions or forc­ing them to pro­vide vir­tual adap­ta­tions, slowed down pro­duc­tion of anime series caus­ing delays for dub­bing and releas­ing in var­i­ous global mar­kets, and of course, resched­ul­ing or direct to on-demand ser­vices for upcom­ing movies. As Lyn­d­sey and I pre­pare this edi­tion to upload I learned ways to soften Covid’s blow on #hot­geek­sum­mer and con­tin­u­ing #geek life:

  1. Sup­port offi­cial works of fran­chises: I know many of you have heard this phrase many times, but it’s impor­tant to do it since every time a new project for Dragon Ball Super or DC or Mar­vel releases, these com­pa­nies make deals with the creators/original stu­dios to han­dle voice cast record­ing, trans­la­tion, mar­ket­ing and other ele­ments to ensure the suc­cess of the stated project. By buy­ing offi­cial mer­chan­dise, every­one involved can be com­pen­sated for their awe­some work, ensur­ing that a loved series stays with its fans longer.
  2. Heed trusted wis­dom: By now, you’ve heard about the impor­tance of social dis­tanc­ing, wear­ing cloth masks, prac­tic­ing good hand hygiene and avoid­ing unnec­es­sary trips out­side home, right? There’s a rea­son for that; To stop Covid’s spread, these few yet effec­tive meth­ods dras­ti­cally reduce the chances of Covid spread­ing to inno­cent peo­ple, espe­cially those with seri­ous health issues. Also, please fol­low the advice of CREDIBLE sci­en­tists, doc­tors, nurses and other first respond­ing pro­fes­sion­als fight­ing the good fight against this dis­ease. By heed­ing this wis­dom, the chances of beat­ing Covid greatly increase.
  3. Patience, patience!: I know it’s eas­ier said than done, but even our favorite providers of nice things are affected. Car­toon Network’s “Toon­ami” block had to replay pre­vi­ous episodes of shows and do spe­cial events on the fly because con­tent licen­sors have had to fig­ure out logis­tics in devel­op­ing new episodes of cur­rently air­ing shows. Funi­ma­tion Enter­tain­ment was wait­ing on cre­ative part­ners in Japan to obtain episodes of recently acquired shows such as “My Hero Acad­e­mia” in addi­tion to fig­ur­ing out how its voice actors can record their roles safely. If these com­pa­nies had these prob­lems, Net­flix, Hulu and Crunchy­roll are hav­ing them, too. Give them a break. This applies to your favorite con­ven­tion, too.
  4. Sup­port your local geek mer­chants: Doing busi­ness in a pan­demic is CRAZY. For a cer­tain few, they have devel­oped spe­cific skills that has pre­pared them for this moment and are ready to help keep your sprits up. I bought said items from a local geek and friend of GI and they are awe­some, help­ing GI in its mis­sion to cover gam­ing and geek news as well as keep­ing us safe from Covid when doing vital out­side busi­ness. Also, sup­port those local busi­nesses pro­vid­ing safety options such as online order­ing, curb­side ser­vice and deliv­ery when you are hun­gry or chill­ing with comics. These choices keep them and their rock­star work­ers rolling in these mean Covid streets.
  5. All for geek, geek for all: As geeks of color, we know about feel­ing rejected and unliked by other fel­low geeks, which is not cool. How­ever, with recent news involv­ing geeks of Asian descent being accused of inten­tion­ally spread­ing Covid and assaulted, I have to say this: IT’S. NOT. COOL. While pro­fes­sional health and sci­en­tific orga­ni­za­tions have deter­mined that Covid started in China, geeks of Asian descent here in the U.S. and other places across the globe HAVE NOT con­tributed to its spread. In fact, they’re doing their part to help defeat it through var­i­ous actions. Let’s do our part in hav­ing each other’s backs and theirs, too.
  6. Level up self-care: You know your favorite heroes can be dealt some bru­tal pun­ish­ment giv­ing the bad guys a tem­porar­ily win, caus­ing our heroes to need to recover. Eat­ing prop­erly, a good exer­cise reg­i­men and proper men­tal health care are proven meth­ods to help in the come­back. It’s OK not to feel OK dur­ing this time; just remem­ber to do self-care to get back in the fight and win!
  7. Level up skills: With many anime/comic book con­ven­tions being shut down, this is the per­fect time to develop a new skill that could help you become stronger after this. Whether it’s set­ting up a game stream on twitch, cre­at­ing the next big pod­cast or pol­ish­ing moves for the next fight­ing game tour­ney, this is the per­fect time to skill up for many vic­to­ries that lie ahead. Don’t just apply this to things geek; you can also do this for adding on to a resume or other real-world sit­u­a­tions. I’m tak­ing some courses on emer­gency pre­pared­ness and other hob­bies, and it’s help­ful in improv­ing mind and body. Try it, you’ll like it.

I know that 2020 has been a com­plete Dump­ster fire for every­one thanks to Covid, but I want to leave you with this nugget: THINGS WILL GET BETTER. If we geeks get into for­ma­tion and com­bine like Voltron, we’ll win. Even if our favorite geek activ­i­ties are shut down, we will over­come and be ready for even more awe­some things. Why? Cause Stone jug­ger­naut said so. By the way, I’m giv­ing thanks to UAL — Urban Anime League, Neo Mon­ster Island, Arcade Impact, Nekitou’s Art­ca­dia and, of course, our awe­some read­ers, for pro­vid­ing cham­pion sup­port to us each time we go to print. We wouldn’t be able to do this with­out you.

Bran­don Beatty is edi­tor at large of Gam­ing Insur­rec­tion. He can be reached by email at brandonb[at]gaminginsurrection.com

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Anime Lounge #18: Death Note Ep. 6 — 12

Series: Death Note

Episodes: 6 to 12

Premise: A young man named Light Yagami is bored and incred­i­bly gifted men­tally. He’s look­ing for things to do out­side of hack­ing the national police data­base and is prepar­ing to go to law school for a career in crim­i­nal jus­tice. One day, while in school, he hap­pens to notice a strange book appear out­side. He opens it and finds a shinigami, named Ryuk, that’s bound to fol­low the per­son who finds it. Light’s dis­cov­ery and sub­se­quent deal­ings with Ryuk and his Death Note begin the twisted tale of jus­tice as a means to an end.

Is it worth watch­ing?: YES. This is one of the best anime to be released in the past 20 years. It’s got every­thing you could want: Sus­pense, drama, sev­eral mur­der mys­ter­ies, a plot that makes you ques­tion life choices and char­ac­ters to root for.

Break­out char­ac­ter: Misa Amane. Say what you will about the sec­ond Kira, but she is the break­out star here. She imme­di­ately makes an impact on Light, good or bad, and she joins the story per­ma­nently at a cru­cial time.

Best episode: “Over­cast,” Episode 7. Light finally suc­ceeds in con­vinc­ing the watcher that he has always had less than noble ideals as he com­mits a shock­ing mur­der. Not only is the per­son he mur­ders shock­ing, but also the way that he kills the per­son using the Death Note shock­ing: He causes them to com­mit sui­cide with his writ­ten com­mand. This was the point at which you ceased to sym­pa­thize with Light in any way, but it now makes an inter­est­ing mys­tery even deeper because it’s now a race to see just how long Light will get away with his crimes as Kira.

Where it’s going?: The heat ramps up on Light as Kira, as he will have to jug­gle dis­cov­er­ing there’s another Kira, L’s con­tin­ued inves­ti­ga­tion and his life otherwise.

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Property Review: Captain Marvel

A mar­velous beginning

Cap­tain Mar­vel
Mar­vel Stu­dios, 2019

We all knew she was com­ing; we just didn’t know when. And when Carol Dan­vers got here, we were wait­ing, and we were not dis­ap­pointed with what she brought with her.

Cap­tain Marvel’s ori­gin story is a tale as old as time: Hero­ine has amne­sia, dis­cov­ers her pre­vi­ous life and the rea­son for her amne­sia, finds new allies and turns on her old “allies”/captors. How­ever, this is dif­fer­ent. Set some ways back in the MCU, Cap­tain Mar­vel man­ages rea­son­ably well to stick to the comic book ori­gins of the char­ac­ter. With the hard work estab­lished in the story, thank­fully, Jude Law and Brie Lar­son have chem­istry and are a good match from the outset.

As we learn more about the good “Vers,” we also learn that not every­thing is as it seems. Dan­vers gets down to busi­ness and explores her ori­gin in a funny yet seri­ous way that high­lights the cen­tral ques­tion that most all the Avengers and heroes of the MCU have had to ask them­selves: Who are you?

And that’s the most impor­tant ques­tion asked by this film. Who is Carol Dan­vers to the out­side world after being gone for six years? Who is she to her col­leagues? Who is she to her friends and fam­ily? And, most impor­tantly, who is Carol Dan­vers to her­self? Going on this jour­ney is the key to under­stand­ing the film and the char­ac­ter in later appearances.

Speak­ing of later appear­ances, Ronan the Accuser makes an appear­ance in what is chrono­log­i­cally his first appear­ance in the MCU. Tech­ni­cally, he steals the show in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1, but in the MCU time­line of events, he first appears here to tor­ment Dan­vers and he almost steals the movie right from under her. Lee Pace deserves men­tion for his nuanced por­trayal of the vil­lain. Ronan could eas­ily have been a one-dimensional act, but Pace has shown lay­ers to the vil­lain and truly car­ried his weight when it came to show­ing the might of the Kree fanatic.

With the scene being set for the cap­tain to do her thing and return to her roots, it’s no won­der that the film moves along at a nice clip. It done well and doesn’t stray too far from the comics or do too much extra work beyond what you’ve come to expect from a Mar­vel ori­gin story. In fact, it does every­thing you need it to do to set up Cap­tain Mar­vel for Avengers: Endgame and it does that extremely well. The look at the good cap­tain is fun and packed full of action to set up for one of the most pow­er­ful beings in the comics to finally make her way to the cin­e­matic uni­verse in a dra­matic and fun way.

Like the comics: 8

Story: 6

Act­ing: 6

Total: 20/30 or 6.7

HOW WE GRADE
We score the prop­er­ties in three cat­e­gories: Cast­ing (or voice act­ing in cases of ani­mated), plot and sim­i­lar­i­ties to its source mate­r­ial. Each cat­e­gory receives points out of the max­i­mum of 10 per cat­e­gory and 30 over­all. The per­cent­age is the final score.

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Strip Talk #28: All hail the return of Keaton, king of the Batmen

The king has returned home to his throne. All is right in the world of DC.

It had bet­ter be because the best Bat­man is returning.

Michael Keaton has been announced to return in the Flash’s new movie as a dif­fer­ent ver­sion of the Caped Cru­sader. This ver­sion, in line with his con­ti­nu­ity as Bruce Wayne/Batman from our favorite Bat­man films, is an alter­nate uni­verse ver­sion of Bat­man, dif­fer­ent from Ben Affleck’s most recent ver­sion. While Affleck was decent as was Chris­t­ian Bale, there is no one more deserv­ing of a return to the tights and cowl as Keaton.

Keaton is the ver­sion of Bat­man that I know. Yes, I was around through ’80s syn­di­ca­tion for the Adam West ver­sion of the ’60s, but Keaton is the big-screen ver­sion that I grew up with. He’s the model that made me fall in love with the Dark Knight. Not the comics, not the ani­mated series in 1992. No, Keaton is the ver­sion that defined the dual­ity of Bruce Wayne and Bat­man. Keaton held his own and man­aged to go toe-to-toe with scene man­gler Jack Nichol­son as the Joker, which is a feat unto itself. Keaton gave the quin­tes­sen­tial per­for­mance that set the stan­dard for how a brood­ing Bruce Wayne should be. He is the tem­plate that all later Bat­men are cre­ated from. Despite there being almost 30 years since his last por­trayal of the char­ac­ter, he is the gold standard.

I’m excited and look­ing for­ward to a DC movie for the first time in many years because Keaton is back and ready to do jus­tice to Bruce Wayne once again. I’ve missed him and very much think no one else can compare.

All hail the king. I’m ready to dance with the devil under the pale moon­light once again.

Lyn­d­sey Hicks is editor-in-chief of Gam­ing Insur­rec­tion. She can be reached by email at lyndseyh[at]gaminginsurrection.com

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Otaku Corner: Cosplay is not Consent Vol 2

Con fool­ish­ness: Full metal wildin’ out at anime panels

Trig­ger warn­ing: This arti­cle con­tains descrip­tions of stalk­ing, intim­i­da­tion and sex­ual assault. Unless oth­er­wise stated, the indi­vid­u­als men­tioned are to be pre­sumed inno­cent until proven guilty in courts of law.

In 2017, the #metoo move­ment made major impacts in var­i­ous areas of soci­ety from pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tor occu­pa­tions to var­i­ous forms of enter­tain­ment to empower women. Our geek cul­ture has felt these rever­ber­a­tions in comics, movies and video games. The anime indus­try has also felt this impact recently, but not in a good way. As an anime fan and convention-goer, I have heard sto­ries of non-consensual acts toward women at var­i­ous cons with­out faces of accused indi­vid­u­als being pre­sented. As of 2019, I have found four indi­vid­u­als pub­licly accused of these acts, rang­ing from reg­u­lar con attendee to voice actor. I do not take any plea­sure in pre­sent­ing these indi­vid­u­als, but their actions have placed the anime indus­try in Amer­ica in dire straits.

Matthew Masumi Toy­otome: Accord­ing to Anime News Net­work and Shasta County News Source, the 27-year-old River­side, Calif., cos­player was caught on secu­rity video pour­ing gaso­line on fel­low cos­player Julia Mon­ero Jenk­ins’ car. The result­ing fire engulfed not only her car, but also sev­eral other cars belong­ing to atten­dees attend­ing Anime LA in Jan­u­ary 2019. Upon fur­ther inves­ti­ga­tion by police, it was dis­cov­ered that Toy­otome began stalk­ing Jenk­ins after they stopped doing a YouTube series together and she left a Power Rangers cos­play group that they par­tic­i­pated in. Toy­otome was arrested with­out inci­dent at his home and was held on bail rang­ing from $250,000 to $1 million.

Eric Torg­ersen: ANN’s Lynzee Loveridge reported that the for­mer chair­man of the Atlantic City, N.J., Ani­meNext con­ven­tion was being inves­ti­gated by its board of direc­tors after mul­ti­ple alle­ga­tions of sex­ual harass­ment by female staffers. The alle­ga­tions ranged from inap­pro­pri­ate com­ments and touch­ing, offer­ing alco­holic drinks to under­age staffers, to inci­dents that left irrepara­ble rela­tion­ships with musi­cal guests, which caused neg­a­tive pub­lic­ity for the con­ven­tion. Loveridge’s arti­cle men­tioned that when con­cerns were made, the board of direc­tors gave Torg­ersen a warn­ing to watch his con­duct. Despite the warn­ing, staffers who were inter­viewed stated that Torgersen’s behav­ior con­tin­ued. A staffer known as “A” alleged that they were threat­ened by Torg­ersen to “mind my own busi­ness or I would be sorry.” ANN attempted to con­tact Torg­ersen via Face­book for com­ment but was unable to do so. ANN was able to reach AnimeNext’s cur­rent chair­man of the board of direc­tors Keenan Slo­bodz­ian, who stated that the inter­nal inves­ti­ga­tion was still ongo­ing. Slo­bodz­ian also con­firmed that Torg­ersen was no longer on the board of direc­tors but declined to state if he was still part of Ani­meNext staff.

Ryan Kopf: Known as “the pres­i­dent of anime,” Kopf is the founder/CEO of Animecon.org, an orga­ni­za­tion that runs con­ven­tions in Min­neapo­lis, Chicago and in other Mid­west towns. Recently, staff from Anime Mil­wau­kee banned Kopf from future events after an alleged sex­ual assault that took place at its con in Feb­ru­ary 2018. AMKE staff made a state­ment to ANN that Mil­wau­kee police were called by Hyatt Regency hotel staff per their pro­to­col, which resulted in Kopf and all animecon.org pro­mo­tional mate­r­ial removed from con space and hotel prop­erty. In a state­ment to ANN, Kopf denied the inci­dent stat­ing, “When attend­ing Anime Mil­wau­kee in 2018, I was always in the com­pany of at least one of my staff mem­bers. We were not approached by any­one and we were not asked to leave. The pre­cise nature of these alle­ga­tions remains [sic] unclear to me. I have not done any­thing improper at either of these events, and I fully intend to pur­sue hold­ing account­able those who have con­tin­ued to repeat defam­a­tory state­ments about me.” As of GI press time, Kopf and his orga­ni­za­tion remains, despite calls for his removal from animecon.org and poten­tial guests’ boycotts.

Mignogna

Rial

Vic Mignogna: The 56-year-old voice actor, best known for his roles in the Full­metal Alchemist series, Bleach, Dragon Ball Z movie series and RWBY, was accused in Feb­ru­ary 2019 soon after the release of Dragon Ball Super: Broly of inap­pro­pri­ate con­duct toward anime fans in addi­tion to homo­pho­bic behav­ior. Mignogna was also accused by fel­low voice actors Mon­ica Rial and Jamie Marchi of inap­pro­pri­ate behav­ior, which led to many major con­ven­tions can­cel­ing his appear­ances and licens­ing com­pa­nies Funi­ma­tion Enter­tain­ment and Rooster Teeth remov­ing Mignogna from future projects. Accord­ing to Gizmodo’s Beth Elderkin, Mignogna made numer­ous apolo­gies in pub­lic and pri­vate but decided to take legal action against Rial, Marchi and Funi­ma­tion in April 2019. Dur­ing the trial, anime fans drew bat­tle lines for and against Mignogna using hash­tags #Kick­Vic and #Istand­with­Vic. On Sept. 6, 2019, 12 of the charges against Rial, Marchi and Funi­ma­tion were dropped, which lead to Judge John Chupp to order medi­a­tion because of ongo­ing threats made to him and involved par­ties. On Sept. 17, 2019, Chupp dis­missed all remain­ing charges against Rial, Marchi and Funi­ma­tion. On Oct. 24, 2019, Mignogna filed an appeal against dis­missal of his law­suit, which was approved on Decem­ber 11. At GI press time, no fur­ther court date was available.

I have gripes with all four of these indi­vid­u­als, which requires going in order. First, Mr. Toy­otome. What the hell, sir? Your fool­ish­ness not only endan­gered lives, but also damn near destroyed a con­ven­tion that infuses a local econ­omy. You owe those con-goers, orga­niz­ers of said con and your ex-friend numer­ous apolo­gies and resti­tu­tion.
Next, Mr. Torg­ersen and Kopf. You used your posi­tions as con orga­niz­ers to com­mit behav­ior not even the most heinous of geek vil­lains would approve of. Apol­o­gize and leave the con scene, imme­di­ately. Finally, Mr. Mignogna. I can’t find words to say that you fracked up ROYALLY. I fol­lowed your story as it devel­oped to pos­si­bly give the ben­e­fit of doubt, but the calls for you to resign and the court rul­ing sealed it for me. As much as it is painful, I believe that you are blessed enough not to be behind bars. You need to leave the voice artist business.

I apol­o­gize for this long piece but as a fan of all things geek and just, I could not give these indi­vid­u­als quar­ter for their actions. If our fan­dom has toxic behav­ior toward women, WE ALL LOSE. This is why the #metoo and cos­play is not con­sent move­ments still exist as well activists like Sean McGuin­ness, who do excel­lent lec­tures on the con cir­cuit to inform fans. I hope not to make this a reg­u­lar theme for GI, but if need be, so be it. GI folks, now that you know bet­ter, do better.

Bran­don Beatty is edi­tor at large of Gam­ing Insur­rec­tion. He can be reached by email at bran­donb [at] gaminginsurrection.com

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Top 5 on the Strip: Comic book TV edition

1. Spawn — HBO, 1994
If you didn’t read the comics, chances are this was your first expo­sure to the hell-spawned entity Spawn. We’re ignor­ing the ridicu­lous movie in favor of the ani­mated mas­ter­piece fea­tur­ing vocal leg­end Keith David. Spawn was gory and brood­ing and just the right mix for teenagers to learn about the comics legend.

2. Luke Cage — Net­flix, 2016
Per­fect cast­ing made this show what it is, and we’re sad to see it gone. Luke Cage was great in the exe­cu­tion as well and has a phe­nom­e­nal sound­track. GI home­town boy Mike Colter siz­zles in the title role and Alfre Woodard, Theo Rossi and Maher­shala Ali absolutely steal the show every time they’re onscreen.

3. Dare­devil — Net­flix, 2015
Tight writ­ing, bru­tal fight scenes and good cast­ing made this a hit on Net­flix. The first two sea­sons were superb with empha­sis on the cast­ing of Vin­cent D’Onofrio as King­pin. Dare­devil, like all Mar­vel Net­flix shows, has been can­celed, but it’s worth get­ting a sub­scrip­tion just to see the magic of a com­pe­tent Matt Murdock.

4. Arrow — CW, 2012
We must give it to Stephen Amell: He cer­tainly turned Oliver Queen into a cred­i­ble super­hero. Arrow has seen its ups and downs (every­thing post sea­son 4, any­one?), but it’s still a decent story and the early twists and turns are enough to entice you to stick around and invest in the Queen fam­ily and their exploits. Arrow was one of the first suc­cess­ful comic book TV shows and it’s paved the way for oth­ers like it. It has earned its props.

5. Smal­l­ville — CW, 2001
One of the first comic­book shows before the recent craze and takeover of Mar­vel tele­vi­sion, Smal­l­ville had folks talk­ing about Super­man like they were comic book experts. Tom Welling­ton did an excel­lent job por­tray­ing the Man of Steel in his younger years, but the true shout out goes to Michael Rosen­baum as the scene-stealing Lex Luthor.

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Anime Lounge #17: Junjou Romantica 2

Series: Jun­jou Roman­tica 2

Episodes: 1 to 12

Premise: Jun­jou Roman­tica is bro­ken up into three sto­ry­lines: Roman­tica, Ego­ist and Ter­ror­ist. Roman­tica is the story of main cou­ple Mis­aki Taka­hashi and Aki­hiko Usami, who are brought together by Misaki’s older brother, Takahiro, so that Aki­hiko can tutor Mis­aki for col­lege entrance exams. It hap­pens that Takahiro announces at the meet­ing that he is get­ting mar­ried. Aki­hiko and Mis­aki are upset for dif­fer­ent rea­sons: Mis­aki, because it means he is los­ing his brother some­what after the death of his par­ents; Aki­hiko, because he is in love with Takahiro. Romance com­mences, with a reluc­tant Mis­aki along for the ride. Ego­ist focuses on Nowaki Kusama and Hiroki Kamijou’s devel­op­ing rela­tion­ship. Nowaki is con­sid­er­ably younger than Hiroki, who is a clas­sic Japan­ese lit­er­a­ture pro­fes­sor. Thus, their rela­tion­ship cen­ters on their every­day strug­gle to be a cou­ple on equal foot­ing. In Ter­ror­ist, Yo Miyagi and Shi­nobu Takat­suki become reac­quainted after the end of Yo’s mar­riage to Shinobu’s sis­ter. Shi­nobu is in love with Yo, but Yo doesn’t take him seri­ously. The result­ing rela­tion­ship between the two is inter­est­ing and deals with their pasts as brothers-in-law and their age dif­fer­ence. One pro­tag­o­nist in each cou­ple knows of another in another cou­ple. For exam­ple, Aki­hiko was in a rela­tion­ship with Hiroki and Hiroki works with Yo.

Is it worth watch­ing?: Yes. If you love roman­tic sto­ries, this is prob­a­bly for you. A word of cau­tion, though: If you do not like yaoi, do not watch because the series’ rela­tion­ships are all between men. If you are com­fort­able with it, you’ll come to love the char­ac­ters and their rela­tion­ship struggles.

Break­out char­ac­ter: Mis­aki Taka­hashi. He finally starts to come out of shell and become a lit­tle more open in his rela­tion­ship with Aki­hiko. Instead of super shy and awk­ward Mis­aki, he’s a lit­tle more com­fort­able with being in an openly acknowl­edged rela­tion­ship with Akihiko.

Best cou­ple: Mis­aki and Aki­hiko. Despite their weird quirks, and them being the main focus, they are the most endear­ing of the three cou­ples. Hiroki and Nowaki are the most seri­ous, and Yo and Shi­nobu are the most real­is­tic of the three. Mis­aki and Aki­hiko also hap­pen to be the most fun of the three couples.

Where it’s going?: The three cou­ples have issues to work on sep­a­rately, but most impor­tantly, Misaki’s time with Aki­hiko will be com­ing to an end now that he’s approach­ing grad­u­a­tion … or will it?

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Property Review: Avengers Endgame

Photo cour­tesy of IMDB.com

Assem­bled great­ness completed

Avengers: Endgame
Mar­vel Stu­dios, 2019

We’re in the endgame now.” Dr. Strange was and always has been pre­scient about the sit­u­a­tion at hand. Whether it’s his own bat­tles with the likes of Dor­mammu or Shuma Gorath or fac­ing off against Thanos, the Sor­cerer Supreme of Earth is always plan­ning and stark about the real­ity of what­ever hap­pens to be going on. In this instance, in Avengers: Infin­ity War and Avengers: Endgame, Strange was the most grounded and gave the most sober­ing assess­ment of all: The Avengers were going to lose before they won.

Based on Strange’s assess­ment in Infin­ity War, you’d think Endgame would be some bleak tale of revenge and that’s it. Tech­ni­cally, Endgame does begin as that, but it morphs into some­thing more. It’s a tale of loss, hard choices, joy and sur­vival. And, yes, revenge. It’s a do-over on some lev­els also. See, here, the Avengers who sur­vived “the snap­pen­ing” in Infin­ity War have to go on. They’re liv­ing day to day with­out their com­rades, friends, loved ones and mentors/mentees. Life is bleak, with mon­u­ments to those lost when Thanos took out half of the universe’s pop­u­la­tion with a flick of his wrist and a twitch in his gaunt­let. Time has, at once, stood still and moved on for those still around. They’re find­ing ways to cope and that’s the meat of the first third. It’s a bril­liantly decon­structed look at the world in which the Avengers did not win. The vis­ceral raw emo­tion of Avengers cop­ing, and the world at large is beau­ti­ful and simul­ta­ne­ously heart­break­ing. Of all the Avengers, Thor and Hawk­eye are depicted as hav­ing the most pain with Black Widow a close sec­ond. It’s the train wreck that you can’t look away from and feel in your soul.

From that wreck, how­ever, in the sec­ond act rises the phoenix of the Avengers and their allies. The most genius among them — Scott Lang, Hulk and Tony Stark — fig­ure out a way to effect time travel. They engi­neer a way to travel to dif­fer­ent points on their estab­lished time­line to retrieve the Infin­ity stones and bring every­one back. This makes for great com­edy and revis­its of some of the cin­e­matic universe’s most mem­o­rable moments. Pop cul­ture bits (such as America’s Ass for Cap­tain America/America’s sweet­heart Chris Evans and “Hail Hydra,” also for Cap) even make their way in, light­en­ing the mood a bit. But alas, as you make one stride for­ward, there will always be another that takes you back. Hard choices must be made in order to see some gain, or so Mar­vel would have you believe. So, yes, you’re going to say good­bye to some fan favorites and yes, this is sig­ni­fy­ing that their time with the fran­chise is com­ing to an end. How­ever, it’s han­dled well, and it invokes emo­tion so much so that young chil­dren will cry at the thought of los­ing their favorite superhero.

And, for a minute, let the edi­tor just step back and rem­i­nisce about the expe­ri­ence of see­ing the cur­rent crop of Avengers gath­ered together for likely the last time. When there was a piv­otal death, at the most piv­otal moment — yes, THAT death — there was not a dry eye in the house. A young child, no older than 6 prob­a­bly, cried her eyes out. Adults around us, includ­ing the edi­tor, snif­fled and cried as though we had lost a beloved fam­ily mem­ber. THAT is how you do a proper send­off to a beloved char­ac­ter and that is how you wrap up a story, one of redemp­tion and self­less­ness for the char­ac­ter and the actor in real life.

Every beat hit and every note cleanly marked is the hall­mark of these Avengers movies and Endgame was no excep­tion. Threads from the early days were neatly wrapped and char­ac­ter invest­ment paid off for nearly every­one. It was enough that when the lights came back up, the movie received a stand­ing ova­tion and nearly every­one waited for a mid-credits scene that would never come. THAT is how you wrap 11 years and 22 movies into a neat pack­age and remind every­one that you’re the mas­ter of the genre. That is how you thank your fans for tak­ing the time to care and get to know your ensem­ble cast through indi­vid­ual movies and properties.

That’s Mar­vel, baby.

Like the comics?: 6
Cast­ing: 10
Writ­ing: 10

Over­all score: 26 out of 30 or 8.6

HOW WE GRADE
We score the prop­er­ties in three cat­e­gories: Cast­ing (or voice act­ing in cases of ani­mated), plot and sim­i­lar­i­ties to its source mate­r­ial. Each cat­e­gory receives points out of the max­i­mum of 10 per cat­e­gory and 30 over­all. The per­cent­age is the final score.

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